I had that opportunity when I reviewed the ACOG® prototype (July 1988 S.W.A.T.). This is my second such opportunity, reviewing the BCOBrowe Combat Optic—a product that I predict will soon dominate the tactical/ combat optic industry.
Over the past three decades, rifles and carbines equipped with compact optics have become a familiar sight in scenarios ranging from urban operations utilized by police special-weapons teams to close-quarters engagements on military battlefields. When deployed on fielded weapons, compact optics ranging from 1X to 4X magnification have consistently produced superior results over conventional iron sights in terms of precision shot placement and ease/ speed of target acquisition. Additionally, precision shots could be accomplished at increased engagement distances and in varying light conditions.
Given the excellent optical systems currently deployed, is it possible for more improvement? After all, isn’t a scope just a tube with a lens at each end?
A mutual friend recently introduced me to Brian K. Browe, president of Browe Inc., and stated that Browe was a seasoned veteran of the military optical industry, with 15 years as former director of operations of the country’s leading combat optic manufacturer. Browe was preparing to independently introduce to the market a new optical product that has resulted from several years of continuous development and improvement. It was suggested that the optic might be of interest to me and particularly S.W.A.T. Magazine readers.
Browe explained that after years of interaction with the law enforcement and military communities, he had developed a product driven by their unique requirements and manufactured to uncompromising standards and not constrained by an accountant’s profitability statement. Browe stated that he would not accept compromise of any sort in a product bearing his name, and that every aspect of the product from design and engineering to final production materials would be the absolute finest quality that is currently available—anything less was unacceptable.
At that point, I began my journey into the realm of state-of-the-art combat optics, their manufacture, operation and technological evolution over the last three decades.
By definition, advantage is superiority of position or condition, and is frequently the deciding factor in surviving a lethal engagement, where only skill and training are of greater importance. The recently introduced Browe Combat Optic provides that important tactical advantage, exhibiting design features and qualities superior to any other optical product currently available. The BCO is a purpose designed and built optic for use in police tactical scenarios as well as in military combat, where form follows function.
It enhances the speed at which an operative can acquire a sight picture and successfully engage a target, making the difference in operational success in every instance. Superior performance is delivered using current state-of-the-art technology, not technology incorporated into currently fielded products that have not seen a major design change for over 20 years. This product’s performance will provide a significant edge for police special-weapons teams as well as military personnel.
No expense was spared in the design and manufacture of the BCO, beginning with the scope body, a precision military- grade titanium investment casting produced by Ti Squared Technologies. Why use titanium when others use less expensive aluminum? Titanium is 2.5 times stronger than aluminum relative to material density, allowing for thinner wall dimensions while simultaneously enhancing its ability to survive the rigors of field abuse.
An internally adjustable roof prism optical system is incorporated to maintain a short overall length—a platform that has proven itself successful with currently deployed products.
The optical design for the 4X32 BCO was developed by Optical Engineering of Minnesota, a company known for its experience in the commercial, research and military arenas. All lenses are precision ground from the finest quality optical glass and broadband anti-reflective coated, providing excellent light transmission even under lowlight conditions.
The reticle incorporates an LED coupled with microprocessor technology and a cadmium-sulfide photocell to measure target light levels, automatically adjusting the reticle to match target lighting conditions, not ambient light. When operating in urban areas, light conditions can vary from well-illuminated streets to light-subdued alleys and dark building interiors. When nanoseconds count, there is no time to make manual illumination adjustments or search for a poorly illuminated reticle.
The scope’s optical axis was engineered to allow perfect alignment and compatibility with other optical devices, including low light/night vision, FLIR thermal imaging and others. Multiple mounting areas are incorporated into the housing design, allowing the easy addition of add-on accessories like red-dot reflex sights for snap shooting application.
The BCO can be mounted on any tactical rifle or carbine equipped with a Picatinny rail (Mil 1913), which includes virtually all currently manufactured tactical firearms. Return to zero when mounting the optic on a firearm is accomplished using the standard ARMS adjustable single-throw lever mount, supplied as part of the standard BCO package. Installation and removal from the firearm require only a 90° movement of the throw lever.
When not in use on the firearm, the optic can be stored in a Pelican combat hardened case, which is also included in the standard package.
Once mounted, the optic is activated using the Single Intuitive Control (SIC) button. First press of the SIC button puts the system into automatic mode, and the LED reticle automatically adjusts to target lighting conditions metering off the target, not off the ambient background, using Target Light Sensor Technology.
Second press of the button puts the system into manual mode, starting with the brightest setting. Every subsequent press of the SIC button allows cycling through the ten daylight and three night vision settings. Holding the SIC button for three seconds puts the system into sleep mode to conserve the battery.
The BCO microcontroller is flash programmable if field expedient custom setting changes are required. An integral vibration sensor returns the system to sleep mode after 120 minutes of non-movement, should the weapon be set down for an extended period of time with the reticle activated. Additional accessories include Tactical Tough® popopen lens covers, laser filters and the Tanebraex® Killflash anti-reflection filter. Due to the elimination of the superfluous lens hood found on other products, these devices mount positively to the optic via internal threads rather than with large clumsy rubber bands.
AT THE RANGE
Following initial zeroing aided by a green laser bore sighting device, the BCO was manually fine tuned at 100 meters. Both elevation and windage adjustments produce 1/2 minute of angle adjustment per click at 100 meters. The adjustments were positive and repeatable.
Bullseye and humanoid targets were engaged at both 100 and 200 meters from bench rest and offhand positions, with more than acceptable results. Head shots at 100 meters were easily accomplished. Groups consistently averaged 1.5 inches. These are reasonable results given the limitations of the short-barreled Smith & Wesson M4 carbine.
The BCO utilizes a ballistic chevron reticle calibrated for 5.56mm NATO ammunition and is used for expedient range determination. Ranging is easy, referencing an average humanoid target. The peak of the chevron indicates 100 meters, the crotch of the chevron 200 meters, the feet of the chevron 300 meters, and greater distances are indicated by numbers on the vertical post. This system is fast, straightforward and simple to use; no mental effort is required.
Automatic reticle intensity adjustment was tested under four distinct background lighting scenes. Results were as anticipated: the reticle autoadjusted to accommodate both natural and artificial light, subdued light on streets and in alleys, as well as building interior scenes illuminated only by minimal available ambient lighting. The total process was effortlessly accomplished in nanoseconds, without thought or time-consuming manual adjustment.
Reticle blooming, a problem currently plaguing the U.S. Military with an optical product that is widely deployed in the Middle East, is virtually eliminated in the Browe BCO by utilizing target light sensor technology. On the other hand, to correct the problem experienced with the currently deployed optic, you must refer to page 2-10 of the U.S. Marine Corps scope operation manual TM9-1240-416-13&P: “To adjust reticle illumination during extremely bright conditions, use riggers tape (duct tape) as seen in Figure 31 to shield the fiber optic collector. During bright conditions, only about 1/2-1 inch of fiber optic is required. As more reticle illumination is needed, peel back the tape to expose more fiber.” This type of procedure belongs in a Flintstones cartoon, not on a modern battlefield during combat, especially since the issue can be resolved electronically and automatically.
With the BCO, “the proof is in the performance,” and I was more than impressed by its performance. This product has truly raised the bar on tactical optics, taking them to the next level and establishing a new benchmark that all others will be measured against. In an era when almost everything is outsourced, this domestically designed, sourced and produced optic proudly boasts that it is made in the USA.
Any advantage over an adversary can provide the tactical officer or military personnel with a decisive edge in a lethal engagement. The Browe Combat Optic provides that advantage.